RoboCop and Iron Man can dodge bullets and crush villains, a new powered suit from Japan promises its elderly users more modest powers, such as pulling up radishes without getting a backache.
Unlike its heavily armed Hollywood counterparts, the Power Assist Suit aims to make life easier for Japan’s army of greying farmers.
The metal-and-plastic exoskeleton boasts eight electric motors that amplify the strength of the wearer’s arms and legs, as well as sensors that can detect movements and respond to commands through a voice-recognition system.
Prof. Shigeki Toyama and his team developed the power-enhancing suit at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, and Toyama plans to set up a company to start producing the futuristic outfit by the end of the year.
“If the farmer bends over to grasp a radish, his back will be firmly supported,” said Gohei Yamamoto, a student working on the team.
“A brief vocal instruction will instantly straighten the rods along his legs, giving him the power he needs to pull the vegetable without effort.”
Fifteen years in the making, the robo-suit can reduce the user’s physical effort by 62 per cent on average.